A new report has revealed that 61% of Irish media consumers are concerned about what is real and what is fake on the internet.

This represents an increase of four percentage points on last year and is higher than the EU average of 51%, according to the Reuters Digital News report 2019 which has been published today.

The report also found that RTÉ News online was the main online brand used for news in 2019 at 21%, ahead of the Journal.ie at 19%.

Independent.ie, Breakingnews.ie and The Irish Times were all slightly down on previous surveys but the report says all of these changes are likely to be within the margin of error.

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There has been little change in the number of people willing to pay for online news, with payment through subscriptions, donations and once off payments at 11% across the EU and 12% in Ireland, an increase of one percentage point on last year.

Of those who do pay, the majority only have one subscription. The 25-34 age group were most likely to pay for online news and the 55-64 age group least likely to do so.

RTÉ TV news remains by far the most popular source of traditional news for Irish consumers with 36% of respondents saying it provides the main source of their news, and 21% saying RTÉ Radio was their main source.

Radio remains the top first source of news in the morning for Irish respondents but this is down six percentage points since 2016, when the question was last asked.

Internet usage via smartphones has increased by ten percentage points in the same period.

Meanwhile, Facebook remains the most important social network for news in Ireland but closed networks like WhatsApp are increasing in popularity in some parts of the world with 53% of respondents in Brazil saying they used WhatsApp for news on a weekly basis.

In Ireland the figure was 15%. Elsewhere in Europe, the figure ranged from 3% in Sweden to 36% in Spain.

The research also found that more than a quarter of Irish news consumers made a decision not to share a news story in the last year because they doubted its accuracy.

22% of respondents had stopped using certain news sources because they were unsure of the accuracy of the reporting.

However, Irish media also received the highest rating for helping news consumers understand the news of the day, 59%, ahead of the UK at 57% and the EU average of 48%.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland funds the inclusion of Ireland in the Reuters Institute Digital News study, and commissions the Institute for Future Media and Journalism at DCU to produce a specific report on the Irish results.

The data was collected in January and February of this year.

BAI Chief Executive Michael O'Keeffe said he was surprised that of 61% of Irish media consumers are concerned over what is real and what is fake on the internet.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said one of the positives from the report was that the level of trust in traditional media, such as television, was still very strong, but it was a concern that payment for news was low.

Mr O'Keeffe said the issue of fake news was making people question what they are receiving from sites online.

He said it is encouraging that a younger age group was willing to pay for news as the concept of paying was more readily accepted given how people pay for platforms such as Netflix and Spotify.

Mr O'Keeffe said it was also a positive that traditional platforms such as radio and television were proving more robust and holding peoples' trust.